Our friends at Eleven Madison Park have this habit – and a lovely habit it is! – of surprising us with something special when we’re celebrating our birthdays. A few years ago, for Michael’s birthday, they created two special cocktails — one alcoholic for him and the other sans alcohol for me – which they labeled with our surname. And, of course, there was the fantastic surprise they orchestrated for my birthday last year which will be difficult for them to top. But that hasn’t stopped them from finding new ways to make these special occasions super-special.
January 26, 2012. Michael’s birthday. Head Sommelier Jeff Taylor had poured the Krug (a gift from the house), and our captain, Brandon, had taken our order (the tasting menu), when Will Guidara came to our table. He extended birthday felicitations, we thanked him for the Champagne, and we chatted for a bit. Just before leaving us, he told us there would be a surprise coming our way. So, we said to each other, they’re at it again! What would it be this time?
IT arrived at the end of the amuse parade. Actually, we could smell it coming our way — the aroma of wood smoking — as Chef de Cuisine James Kent approached carrying a round tray covered with a glass dome which he placed in the middle of the table.
“No peeking!” he instructed and left. Well, other than lifting the dome, there was obviously no way we could tell what was hidden by all that white smoke.